Seminar on Karez – An Indigenous Water Management System

22 December 2011 | International news release

Widely attended by the government officials, donors, academics, researchers, water experts and the media, IUCN Pakistan held a seminar on “Karez: an indigenous water management system” in Islamabad.

The seminar was opened by Mr. Shah Murad Aliani, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan who shared his memories of karezes in Balochistan which later have dried up due to mushroom but unsustainable growth of tubewells.

Mr. Hamid Sarfraz, Programme Coordinator, IUCN Pakistan gave a brief overview of IUCN and its water related initiatives and projects, including the Water and Nature Initiative and the Balochistan Partnerships for Sustainable Development, both funded by the Netherlands government.  

Mr. Ghulam Mohayuddin Marri, Member (Infrastructure), Planning Commission of Pakistan was the chief guest on the occasion. He highlighted the importance of water and Karezes being a sustainable water management technique, especially in a water-scarce country like Pakistan. Mr. Marri appreciated IUCN’s work and stressed on a collaborated approach for the future projects. He also assured of government’s support in up-scaling of karez rehabilitation.

Mr. Zaigham Khan, Executive Director of the Action Research Institute presented a socio-economic perspective on the karez system and outlined the importance of karez in its historical and global context.

Mr. Irfan Ali Bakhtiari, IWRM Coordinator, IUCN Pakistan informed the participants about IUCN’s rehabilitation efforts in Balochistan’s Pishin and Ziarat districts. He talked about various types of karezes and how the pilot rehabilitation efforts including introduction of high quality UPVC pipes in the tunnels after an extensive cleaning of debris in the clogged shafts. “Some of these Karezes have been giving water for more than 200 years, like a mother nurtures her child”, he added.

Documentaries emphasizing on urgent Karez rehabilitation were also screened at the seminar. Produced by IUCN Pakistan, the films have been directed by award-winning filmmakers Maheen Zia and Umbreen Butt.

Haji Nasrullah Khan and Gohar Khan Tareen represented the local communities from Balochistan. They explained the benefits that the farmers are being able to reap from better water management by increase in crops’ yield. “Women in our area are quite happy since they had to travel huge distances. Now they have clean water available near our houses”, added Haji Nasrullah Khan.

Dr. Shahid Ahmad from NARC presented possible potential and options for revitalising the karez system. He explained that the karez can be a reliable source of water without impairing its quality or quantity and can function during the drought period as well. He described different techniques involved in sustaining the karez system including watershed management, floodwater harnessing, water diversion, management and plantation of trees and shrubs.

The way forward was discussed and explained by Dr. Pervaiz Amir. He talked about involving the private sector through an integrated development model. He also elaborated on an agribusiness model and that the best science should be employed on indigenous knowledge and new technology.
The seminar was concluded after a lively discussion between the panellists and the participants. Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Manager IUCN Islamabad Office thanked the participants for attending the seminar.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Hamid Sarfraz, Programme Coordinator
IUCN Pakistan (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
House No. 21, Street No. 88, G-6/3, Islamabad
Phone: +92 51 2271027-34   Fax: +92 51 2271017